Man, that felt good!
I took so long writing the last post, and even longer to post it! But it felt amazing when I finally published it. I have to be honest thought, in my opinion, it was garbage. But it was enjoyable garbage, and when I finally pulled the trigger, I was just glad to get it out there. In fact, by the time I published it, I was indifferent whether anyone liked it or not. I got great feedback from my five readers, so I guess it wasn’t that bad, but it shouldn’t have taken me seven months to post something.
If you read the last post, I blamed Seasonal Affective Disorder for my lack of ambition, and that was in fact the case for the most part, but sadly, it wasn’t the whole story as to why I stopped writing. While my bout with winter depression did make it difficult to stay motivated with the Filthy Fifties project, and I did begin to feel like this blog was a dumb idea, I also had another issue that may have been a symptom of the depression or it may have helped feed it, I’m not quite sure which. Either way it was an issue I had to overcome and it was another factor that put the brakes on my writing career.
Simply put: I felt like I was an imposter.
Call it what you like, a fraud.. a fake… a phony, (although I only know one person that actually still uses the word phony, and he’s a little weird), but I felt I was lying to myself, and anyone who was reading my stuff. I had written about a dozen or more posts, and in each one, I was trying to motivate people to join me in being fit and living a healthier lifestyle, regardless of how old they were or what their background was with diet and fitness. However, it seemed like each time I posted something, I got a little more preachy, like I was doing a terrible Tony Robbins impression, and spewing my own brand of upbeat and positive philosophy in an attempt to inspire and motivate, even though I was struggling to motive myself.
Then, last September, when two of my friends passed away, I wrote possibly one of my best pieces to honor their memory and inspire myself and others to keep moving forward. If you haven’t read it, I’d ask that you go back and read it. It was really good. That post got more views than anything I had done, and the response from the ten readers that read it was incredible. So incredible in fact that I think I panicked. For the first time since I started this project, I felt like people were actually looking towards me for some amount of inspiration and guidance. Ordinarily, this should have made me feel terrific, except for one small detail:
I had absolutely no fucking idea what the hell I was talking about.
I’m no fitness guru or life coach, but here I was shelling out advice and wisdom like a friggin motivational speaker. At least Matt Foley could preach how bad it was to live in a van down by the river, because he did in fact, live in a van down by the river. I had nothing. Not only was I not a motivational-fitness-guru-life coach, but even worse, I was fat, old and out of shape! Suddenly it became obvious to me that I was way out of my league.
So I continued to write posts dealing with inspirational topics like gratitude and positive thinking, mostly in an effort to motivate myself, but it seemed like the more I wrote, I was getting farther off topic.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was sincere in everything I wrote. Those posts were heart felt and I was honest about everything I said, but I think I filled them with this motivational fluff in order to keep my limited number of readers occupied until I could get back on track with my own fitness routine in order to have something else to write about. The result was my post views went down and I wasn’t attracting any readers. I felt like people were giving up on me and honestly, I was giving up myself. It was about this same time that the Winter Depression hit me in full force and having lost my direction of where I wanted to take this blog, I was overcome with a massive case of imposter syndrome. No one was reading my blog because they could see right through me, so I closed my laptop and gave up.
Fast forward a few months later. I hadn’t written anything for a while and when a friend had inquired why I had stopped writing, I explained all of this to her. Now she is the kind of person who possesses the unique ability to tell you what a dumb ass you are being, without actually coming right out and telling you that you’re a dumb ass, and that’s pretty much what she did. She suggested that I not be so concerned with the outcome of my posts and just write because I enjoy it. That is why my Keep Moving Forward post was so successful, because it was heart felt and I wrote it in order to express the pain I felt from losing two very close friends, not to impress readers.
My wife, who is a huge supporter of my work and makes up one tenth of my readers, pretty much said the same thing. And while she too possesses the ability to inform people of their dumb-assness without calling them out directly, she rarely employs this same method with me. She told me to stop being a dumb ass, and also pointed out that I was helping people. But ultimately, I should continue this because it was something I liked to do and more importantly, it was good for me. I can always count on her to provide me with the love, support and a good swift kick in the ass when I need it. Everyone needs a person like her in their life.
So I gave it a lot of thought, and decided to go back and read my first ever post “Why would a guy like me be writing a blog“, just to kind of remind myself of why I started this to begin with. When I was done, I sat back in my chair and shook my head. I could not believe how far I had gotten off course! I’m not a fitness guru, and that was the original idea of this blog. My intention was to prove that you didn’t have to be to change your fitness habits. My concept was that an old guy like me, with no athletic background could learn to live a healthier lifestyle with out being a spandex clad twenty-five year old, influencing customers on Instagram to buy their brand of protein shakes. That was the stuff that was turning my generation off from fitness, and I wanted to prove that anyone can exercise. The very thing I was afraid people would think about me, was the think I needed to be. An old fat guy, not knowing what I was doing, but trying to figure it out.
As much as I want to get everybody out there exercising and taking better care of themselves, I can’t do tell them how to do it, not now at least. All I can do is try to show that I can try, and maybe inspire someone else to give it a shot. If not, then I’ll prove that it is too late for me and serve as a warning to others. Either way, the only thing I can do is focus on my progress, hope things turn out well and maybe, just maybe, convince someone who might be watching me that they should give it a try it too.
So you’ll get no more motivational speeches from me, no more inspiration quotes and no more life lessons from remote Caribbean islands. I’m going to focus on my efforts and progress (or lack there of) and stop telling you what you should do. After all I have no idea what you ought to do, but I can definitely show you what not to do. I’ve pretty much been doing that for people all my life.
So, maybe I am one of your 10 readers, but somewhere in mid-winter, I said”hmmm, that guy hasn’t posted anything recently” and wondered if I had missed it. So I dug through my emails and checked.
I know you don’t know me, started following you after The sudden passing of one of those friends of yours who also was a friend of mine.
I totally enjoy your writings!! They are not preachy or “phony”! They are funny, interesting and thoughtful…they connect strangers together because of that! And that is what the world is all about! Keep writing please! Keep being entertaining, and yes…keep being inspirational…because your words do inspire!
That means so much to me. Thank you. I guess I just got a little self conscious dispelling wisdom when I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my own life. The point to all this is I want to focus a little more on what I need to do, then if it works I’ll feel more comfortable giving advice to others. Like I said, right now I’m only an expert on what not to do. That is something I know a lot about!
I totally get this–I went through a very similar experience. Great post!
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Anne, you have played a huge part in keeping me motivated with every post you put up on social media. You should be writing this blog, not me! In fact, if I ever kick off the “Filthy Fifties Podcast”, you will be one of the first people I want to interview.
“ We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”
I’m happy to see you diligently continuing to seek for your most genuine expression, even in the face of self doubt and discouragement.
I look ffd to witnessing the ways your writing allows you to loose yourself and find yourself simultaneously !
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Great postings, I will follow!